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Best Practices for a Modern PR Campaign: Develop the Strategy

March 02, 2023 (6 min read)
Develop a PR strategy using data

In today's crowded and constantly evolving media landscape, it can be challenging for businesses and organizations to get their message heard and their brand recognized. That's where a well-planned public relations (PR) campaign comes in. But simply having a message isn't enough. To truly stand out and make an impact, you need a solid strategy guiding your PR efforts. Without a strategic approach, your campaign can fall flat and fail to reach your target audience.

In the first part of this series, we took an in-depth look at how good brand, audience and industry research is the necessary first step of a successful PR campaign. Now, let's put that research into action with a comprehensive, end-to-end strategy that harnesses every communication tool at your disposal.

We'll go over how the modern PR campaign looks well beyond traditional media relations, leveraging a cross-channel, multifaced approach to reach the right people, in the right place, at the right time, with the right message--and how tools like Nexis Newsdesk can make it that much easier.

Let's dive into the world of PR strategy and explore how it can help your business or organization achieve its goals. 

Create key messages

The first step to a successful campaign strategy is to develop key messages. Now that you fully understand your brand’s current position and future ambitions, what is it that you want to say? How do you want to say it? And what action do you want it to elicit?

Think back to your time spent looking through those observation binoculars. Where did you see whitespace that can be ownable? What messages will most stand out from the competition? What are the things your target audiences will most resonate with?

It’s important that these key messages be agreed upon by everyone at the very top of the organization and that anyone speaking on behalf of the brand is well briefed on how to deliver them.

Identify your targets

Today’s media landscape is not only fragmented but also uniquely personalized to every single individual. Thanks to dozens of streaming services, targeted advertising, politically-centered cable and online “news” channels and the power to curate our own social media accounts, the average consumer lives, for better or worse, in a hyper-targeted echo chamber. To break through, your strategy needs to leverage insights about your target audience(s) to understand what content they’re consuming, where they’re consuming it and when they’re consuming it.

This starts with creating customized media list(s) that include not only the most relevant media outlets to your audience but the perfect, specially targeted media contacts who work within those outlets.

MORE: What are Journalist Contact Cards on Nexis?

Map an omnichannel plan of attack

With these messages in place, it’s time to determine the right channels and tactics to spread them far and wide. Your strategy should consider how earned, owned, shared and paid media efforts can complement and amplify one another. As Tom Biddle, General Manager Media Intelligence at LexisNexis explains, “ A well-written press release distributed via a newswire no longer cuts it. Today’s marketplace requires an omnichannel campaign that’s authentic, relevant, targeted and personalized, with many moving parts.” 

What are the tactics that will most resonate with your target audiences? Here's what to know about the different channels to determine what will be best for you: 

  • Earned: What’s often considered traditional PR, earned media includes any coverage of your brand that is, well, earned. Common examples include news stories, bylined articles, executive commentary opportunities secured via newsjacking (aligning your campaign with trending news), speaking engagements, word of mouth and reviews.
  • Owned: Any content that is owned and operated by your brand. This includes websites, blog posts, webinars, videos, podcasts, newsletters and any content marketing materials that are entirely in your control.
  • Shared: Similar to owned, shared media exclusively refers to social media content.
  • Paid: While a less common tactic for PR practitioners, paid media has become a growing part of the modern campaign. This includes traditional and digital ad buys, but also sponsored content, advertorials, native advertising, search engine ads, social media advertising and more. Influencer marketing has become a significant piece of the paid media pie—something that is falling more and more into communication pros’ camps

Set (Measurable!) goals and objectives

What are you hoping to achieve with campaign? Every campaign has a unique purpose—reputation building, education, awareness, increased sales, investor relations, etc. Think back to when you were researching the brand. You now know the story you want to tell. How is your PR campaign going to help you tell it?

When talking about goals generally, consider breaking it down further by identifying goals and objectives. These may seem interchangeable, but goals and objectives have two different purposes and measurement angles. Goals detail what you want to achieve. Objectives detail how you’re going to achieve them. Goals tend to be broader and speak to the brand’s vision and mission. Objectives have deadlines, Known Performance Indicators (KPIs) and are often detailed and more easily attained. It may take several objectives to achieve a goal.

Measuring a campaign’s impact has been one of the industry’s biggest challenges for decades, but the growth of digital metrics that can track a consumer’s path to purchase has made it a bit easier

The Barcelona Principles

The Barcelona Principles were first introduced by the International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communications (AMEC) in 2010, as a consensus on measurement and evaluation. Due to the rapidly evolving landscape, they have been revised two times since, most recently in July 2020.

Following is AMEC’s overview of the Barcelona Principles 3.0:

  • Setting goals is an absolute prerequisite to communication planning, measurement and evaluation
  • Measurement and evaluation should identify outputs, outcomes and potential impact
  • Outcomes and impact should be identified for stakeholders, society and the organization
  • Communication measurement and evaluation should include both qualitative and quantitative analysis
  • AVEs are not the value of communication
  • Holistic communication measurement and evaluation includes all relevant online and offline channels
  • Communication measurement and evaluation are rooted in integrity and transparency to drive learning and insights

To truly show the value of your work, focus on SMART objectives, which The Barcelona Principles 3.0 considers an “essential prerequisite” to communication planning. Use them to achieve your goals and objectives.

  • Specific: What is your objective?
  • Measurable: How are you going to measure its success?
  • Actionable: How are you going to achieve your objective?
  • Relevant: How does the objective tie in (to the brand, a current trend, the story you’re trying to tell)?
  • Time-bound: What is the deadline?

MORE: From Media Monitoring to Media Intelligence: Three Reasons to Change Your Perspective 

Keep Time in Mind

Timing is everything when it comes to successful PR, and rightfully so. For every award-winning campaign, there are thousands of great ideas that never got off the ground because they were buried under a breaking news story, launched too early or were rolled out during a period when their audience’s attention was focused elsewhere.

And the same is true for the timing of individual tactics. For large organizations, a successful PR campaign will likely require coordination and collaboration with other internal departments to ensure everyone’s goals and objectives are timed appropriately.

Keep up with media intelligence to jumpstart your strategy development 

A good PR strategy requires an in-depth knowledge of everything that's going on in the crowded media landscape. But between planning, researching, creating relationships, and executing your strategy, it can be hard to keep up with any developments that may impact your campaign. That's why you need a top-notch Media Intelligence tool. 

Nexis Newsdesk™ is a 24/7 media monitoring platform that gives you the real-time information necessary to conduct highly informed industry research. Monitor industry topics, experts, news and conversations across 10,000+ global news sources, 150 million websites and 2.5 million social media feeds. Along with other media intelligence solutions, Newsdesk helps to broaden and deepen your research findings with data that uncovers the:

  • Biggest and most important players in your industry
  • Industry topics getting the most coverage
  • Most respected and prevalent industry news sources
  • Industry influencers that represent your brand and convey its messaging
  • Latest industry developments and disruptions
  • Successes of competitors that you can borrow and/or build on
  • Messaging already in the market and how it’s being received
  • Weakness of competitors

Ready to better know your industry? Learn more about Newsdesk today!